Matt Taibbi is touring the States with his new book, The Divide, which is on my must-read list right after I finish Capital in the 21st Century. Rick Kleffel caught up with him for his San Francisco NPR show and posted the interview, along with his notes (which includes links to his previous interviews with Taibbi).
Taibbi was, until recently, the best reason to read Rolling Stone: a finance writer for the 99%, whose incandescent and meticulous columns were terrifying and enraging by turns.
JWZ's law states that "Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail." A corollary is that every complex system expands until it becomes a bank. Yesterday, I wrote about how a chatbot for organizing coffee orders became a full-fledged bank.
Now, here's a 4chan post explaining a dumb/clever way of using Gamestop stores as fee-free banking institutions by pre-ordering (and pre-paying) for games, then cancelling your orders and getting a refund (to make a withdrawal), and ordering new games (to make a deposit). It's fee-free, and as a pre-orderer, you get all the bonus stuff (your bank pays you!).
This is probably more of a reflection of the total dysfunction of banking, where low interest rates and hidden inflation, as well as high fees, conspire to bleed out savers to pay for reckless speculation, but it's still a pretty clever way of getting fee-free banking from an institution with more branches, and better hours, than many banks.
The Center for Public Integrity's
After the Meltdown
series documents the fate of the regulators, executives, and firms that were most directly responsible for the subprime meltdown, and demonstrates that the top bankers for firms like Lehman got unbelievably rich due to their failures, and are still in business with lucrative consulting firms (for example, Lehman CEO Richard Fuld walked away with several hundred million in cash and now has homes in three states and a personal consulting outfit). Consumerist's Chris Morran has done a great job of summarizing the findings:
In 1989, a bank-teller at the Old National Bank in Spokane, WA refused to validate the $0.50 parking stub of a shabbily dressed man who'd come in to cash a check. That shabbily dressed man was John Barrier, a 30-year customer of the bank with more than $1 million on deposit; which he promptly withdrew and took to Seafirst Bank, down the street.
A German bank employee dozed off at his keyboard and accidentally triggered a 222 million euro ($293 million) funds transfer. Of course, the order didn't go through, but the man's colleague was fired for not catching the mistake immediately when verifying the transfer. According to the AFP, the colleague sued and the court ruled that he should get his job back. No word on whether the sleepy employee is still on duty.
Fred "the Shred" Goodwin, an infamous figure in Britain's aristocracy and a symbol of finance industry greed and incompetence, stands to lose his knighthood. Goodwin was knighted for "services to banking," and a few years later presided over the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which the British public had to bail out. Goodwin walked away with a titanic, multimillion-pound pension. The Prime Minister David Cameron has asked the relevant committees to have a go at taking away Goodwin's knighthood.
The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association. CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.
According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.”
The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says, “should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”
"How can the government justify charging students nearly 7 percent while it charges the banks nothing and can itself borrow for less than nothing?" —Tamara Draut, writing at The Nation.(via Ned Sublette)